Corban Knight and the Abbotsford Heat denied the Utica Comets their first win since the franchise moved to upstate New York this summer, beating the Vancouver Canucks affiliate 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday.
Heat forward Roman Horak opened the scoring just 1:16 into the first period, but the host Comets surged ahead on goals by Frank Corrado, Benn Ferriero and Brandon DeFazio before the opening frame was up. That offensive outburst ended Abbotsford starting goalie Reto Berra’s night – he was given the hook after allowing three goals on nine shots in favour of Joni Ortio, who was seeing his first AHL action of the season after being recalled from the ECHL’s Alaska Aces earlier in the week.
The Heat found some traction at that point. Mark Cundari, who sat out last weekend’s home-ice set vs. the Lake Erie Monsters with a lower-body injury, scored in his return to the lineup, drawing the Heat to within 3-2 at 14:35 of the second.
Abbotsford took the lead in the final frame, as Chad Billins scored his team-leading fifth goal and Markus Granlund notched his first AHL goal.
But Utica defenceman Patrick Mullen beat Ortio with just over two minutes left in regulation to knot the score 4-4.
It was all Heat in OT – they out-shot the Canucks 6-0 (part of a 40-27 edge for the game) and Knight ended it with his second OT goal of the season.
The Comets (0-5-2) picked up just their second point of the season and are languishing in last place overall in the AHL, while the Heat (5-4-1) sit second in the West Division. The two teams clash once again on Friday at the Utica Memorial Coliseum.
• Right winger Nicklas Jensen, the Canucks’ first-round draft choice in 2011, made his debut with the Comets, posting one assist, a -1 rating and four shots on goal. Jensen had been sidelined due to a shoulder injury suffered while playing with the Canucks in the preseason.